A destination dedicated to providing news, reviews, fan art, and comments about cartoons and horror movies from the '80s and '90s.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

THE MAXX DVD Review


The Maxx Animated Series aired back in the good ol' days of MTV during a programming block called MTV Oddities in 1995. The Maxx aired alongside another series called The Head - about a guy who wakes up with a large...head.

The Maxx is the story of a homeless man who is dressed in a big purple costume that fights evil in two realities. One reality being the reality we all know and live in, the other a colourful Outback with strange and unusual creatures. In the "real" world Maxx is friends with Julie, a New York City social worker. Julie believes that Maxx's alternate universe is just an escape from the harsh reality of New York. Unbeknownst to Julie, the Maxx is Julie's protector in the Outback, where she is the Jungle Queen. The Maxx, Julie and other friends spend the series fighting off the evil and mystical Mr. Gone and his army of creatures called Isz, while dealing with the everyday pressures of life.

The animated series consists of 13 episodes in total, each with a running time of approximately 10-12 minutes. The series is an adaptation of Sam Keith's dark comic series, The Maxx issues #1-11, Darker Image #1 and The Maxx #1/2. The Maxx is one of the coolest cartoons to come out of the 90's. The animation is simple yet highly stylized. It is probably the first cartoon, or movie for that matter, that is truly able to capture the comic panel style to the screen. The animation is so heavily influenced on Sam Keith's artwork, that they even captured artwork from the comic book that Keith was not too fond of. The Maxx is a must-see for any cartoon aficionado's.

The Episodes (Spoilers)
#1
We are introduced to The Maxx and his two realities. The Maxx is arrested after protecting a woman from being raped by a group of thugs. Julie Winters, his social worker, is called in to pick him up from the police station.
#2
We learn more about Maxx's Outback. Mr Gone attacks a girl named Glory while she is doing the laundry with her boyfriend. Julie gets a strange call. The Maxx takes it upon himself to be the hero and comes face to face with Mr. Gone.
#3
Maxx's battle with Mr Gone comes to a halt when Mr. Gone shoots the Maxx and locks him in a dumpster. Mr Gone kidnaps Julie.
#4
The Maxx chases an Isz in daylight, which looks like a 97 year old woman and ends up in the Outback. Maxx battles thousands of Isz and and meets Outback Mr Gone. This episode is a real mind-f*%$. This episode is a great example of how MTV treated their viewers like philosophers instead of trailer trash, like they do now. Some real adult themes and subject matter dealt with in this episode.
#5
We meet a friend (or acquaintance) of Maxx this episode, Sarah - the writer. A great episode for fledgling writers. If you can only watch one episode, watch this one. Really amazing stuff.
#6
Sarah's story continues. Another must see episode. The series really hits it's stride here. We learn a little bit about the origin of the Maxx.
#7
The Maxx fights a giant in the Outback. In the "real" world Maxx falls asleep and turns into a cartoon character stuck in a world reminiscent of a Dr Seuss book.
#8
Julie and her friend take a vacation and leave the Maxx to fend for himself. Unfortunately, he comes face to face with a villain called Hammerhead - he's a Hammerhead shark.
#9
The Maxx and Julie explore the Outback, now that Julie can experience it. Sarah talks to a block of clay with a plan to get into Julie's house.
#10
Julie's experiences in the Outback continue as she begins to remember things. Sarah self-reflects. Maxx loses his mask...as Julie starts to lose her mind.
#11
The Maxx tells Sarah and her friends a story about THE MAXX. Julie questions her relationship with Maxx. The identity of the clay and Sarah's father is revealed.
#12
We learn about Julie's childhood. This is probably the darkest and creepiest episode of the series.
Julie decides to pack up and leave the city.
#13
The final episode of the Maxx. Julie struggles to leave the Maxx. The Maxx attempts to convince her not to leave. The pieces come together to reveal what and who The Maxx really is.

The Maxx is a very adult animated series. It's amazing it was able to keep my attention when I was younger. What's even more amazing, is that this show aired on MTV at one time. The series explores philosophical concepts that even went over my head watching it recently. You almost need a class in philosophy and psychology before you watch it. The big highlight of the show for me is the animation. I absolutely love how they use Sam Keith's artwork right in the animation...think 1960's Marvel cartoons, but more animated. It's also cool to see animation change between different mediums - cartoon, painting, comic art and CG. In many ways, the series works best when you watch it in one sitting. Many of the stories are disjointed and non-linear, so you can get really confused if you watch one episode one week and then watch another a week later. In the 90's they released the series on VHS and actually tied all the episodes together to create a feature length film. However, they left out one whole episode.

The DVD

The interesting thing about this release is that it is only available through Amazon.com's On-Demand service. Instead of taking a financial risk, the distributors (MTV Home Ent) decided to try out Amazon's new CreateSpace. This space allows creators (and now distributors) the ability to release high-risk DVDs to fans. The downfall - the DVDs are just DVD-Rs. I know lots of people have problems with this because DVD-Rs aren't supposed to last as long...which I'm sure is true. But the fact that they are actually making the effort to release it means far more to me as a fan. If some other companies would take this approach maybe we'd see shows like M.A.S.K., Starcom and Visionaries on DVD. For those of you wondering, the DVD set looks like any other set on my shelf. Can't even tell the difference it was made a couple days before it shipped. To make things even better, MTV Home Entertainment have given us some great extra features. Commentary on every episode and an interview featurette.

Commentary - I didn't get a chance to listen to every episode yet with commentary by the creators. I listened to it for a few minutes and learned quite a bit about the making of the series. From what I heard, I recommend it.

Interviews - A fantastic special feature for the DVD set. Great interviews from some of the crew who worked on the show. You learn some cool tidbits and even get to see Sam Keith draw a picture of The Maxx. Worth the price of the DVD alone if you are a fan of the series.

Overall, I highly recommend people take a chance with this series and purchase the DVD from Amazon. If you are worried the DVD-R will stop working in 10 years - don't be. By then all movies and TV shows will just be bought and traded on chip cards or something. For those of you looking to escape modern day MTV shows like Jersey Shore and The Hills, check out The Maxx.

3 comments:

  1. I remember really digging The Maxx, I should really watch it again. I have a bunch of these old MTV shows on VHS somewhere.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just received the set from Amazon.com and, while I'm no expert on DVD's, the discs look like "real" DVD's to me, not DVD-R's ... Could it be that The Maxx has been downgraded from high-risk to low-risk (and thus worthy of real discs) ?

    ReplyDelete